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Land Bonds to Help Lake Wylie Water Quality

(September 15, 2007) Funds from the 2007 Land Bonds will be spent to protect delicate watershed areas for Mountain Island Lake, which is the major source for drinking water in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. In addition, because water from Mountain Island Lake flows into Lake Wylie, the water quality of Mountain Island Lake has a direct effect on the water quality of Lake Wylie.

Steele Creek residents are encouraged to support the land bonds.

The following is a statement from the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department that provides specifics on the Land Bond as it relates to county park land:

Background Information
2007 Land Bonds for Water Quality Protection, Greenways
& Nature Preserve Acquisition

Land Bond Referendum is for a total of $35,640,000.
This includes
$31,590,000 for watershed protection and nature preserve acquisitions,
$2,400,000 for greenway acquisitions and
$1,650,000 for library land needs.

• Mecklenburg County is North Carolina’s most densely populated and fastest growing county. The county’s current population of approx. 850,000 is expected to reach 1 Million by the year 2010. (U.S. Census statistics)

• In only 15 years (1984-2001) Mecklenburg County lost over 22% of its tree cover and 22% of its open space. Over the same period, impervious surfaces increased by 127%. Impervious surface is now the dominant land feature of the county. (American Forests Urban Ecosystem Analysis, Mecklenburg County, NC. March 2003)

• It is essential to keep Mt. Island Lake (MIL) water clean as it is the major source of drinking water for Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents. For the first time, water quality recently slipped with higher levels of sediment, bacteria and other pollutants (2006 LUESA report)

• One major goal of watershed protection was to permanently protect 80% of Mt. Island Lake’s shoreline and 80% of the tributaries.

• To date, 45 of the 61 miles of shoreline (74%) is protected. Only 20% of the tributaries have been protected. The county cannot, and should not, slow down with this vital endeavor.

• Mecklenburg County Nature Preserves currently protect nearly 14 miles of shoreline at Mt. Island Lake, as well as numerous tributaries.

• Mecklenburg County Nature Preserves currently comprise 5,783 acres. Recently this was benchmarked against other urban nature preserve systems. Results indicate Mecklenburg County is lagging far behind other urbanizing counties in acquiring and protecting nature preserve lands strictly for passive recreation and natural resource protection.

• The public supports protecting water quality. A survey completed by the Trust for Public Lands in Mecklenburg revealed extremely strong citizen support for protecting our drinking water quality. Water quality ranked 2nd in priorities just behind crime/public safety, and ahead of schools, transportation, and jobs/economic development.

• Acquiring greenway land helps to protect floodplains. Greenways preserve open space along streams which help absorb flood waters and filter pollutants from storm water. At the same time, greenways create healthy recreational opportunities.

• The need to acquire greenway land is critical in order to meet the county goal and citizen’s expectations of 185 miles of greenway.

• Along Little Sugar Creek, 60% of the land needed for the greenway has been acquired. Additional acquisitions are critical for the continued developed of this signature greenway, which provides economic, environmental, and recreational benefits to the entire county.

Potential Results of Land Acquisitions

In the face of Mecklenburg’s rapid growth, it is imperative the County take a proactive approach to protect some of its remaining open space to protect our water quality, reduce flooding, protect plant and wildlife, and provide residents with recreational opportunities. The proposed land bond would help Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation achieve the following objectives:

• An additional 219 acres permanently protected in the Mt. Island Lake region.

• 4,600 feet of additional shoreline permanently protected.

• Headwaters of three tributaries to Mt. Island Lake protected.

• 7 miles of contiguous shoreline protected.

• Significant wildlife benefits through the creation of wildlife corridors and the linking of existing protected natural areas.

• Protection of two tributaries to Reedy Creek, one of the cleanest streams in Mecklenburg.

• An additional 200+ acres for greenway development throughout Mecklenburg.

• The preservation of two registered Mecklenburg County Historic Landmarks which are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

• Significant habitat protection for forest interior and grassland bird species, such as Meadowlarks and American Kestrels. These species are virtually absent elsewhere in eastern Mecklenburg.

• Protection of the only natural area of significant size remaining in the University City area.

• In total, the addition of 435 acres of permanently protected Nature Preserve property and over 200 acres of greenway property, to provided additional recreational opportunities, increased watershed protection, and significant wildlife habitat and natural resources preservation.

For more information on Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, contact:

Director James R. Garges, CPRP
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department
5841 Brookshire Blvd.
Charlotte NC 28216
(704) 336-8837

Or visit www.parkandrec.com